Cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Joy Sengupta, Jayati Bhatia, Vinay Jain, Kinjal Rajpriya, Amaan Khan, Suhasini Mulay, kaizad Kotwal, Farid Currim, Deepika Amin, Meenakshi Thakur
Director: Ananth Narayan Mahadevan
Rating: * * ½
Runtime: 100 mins
‘Rough Book’ Ananth Mahadevan’s latest effort, hopes to make a statement on the prevailing education system in the country -where rote learning and coaching classes are the norm while experiential knowledge and development of skill sets are thrown out the window. And for that he embarks on a journey with Santoshi(Tannishtha Chatterjee) a product of an SOS Village school run by Ma(Suhasini Mulay) that believes in allowing students to engage with nature in natural surroundings while imbibing education proffered with experiential experiments. The idealistic Santoshi is married to an income tax commissioner(Vinay Jain) and is caught on the back foot when her husband gets hauled up for corrupt practices. Unable to reconcile, she walks out of her marital home, leaves her secure job and sets out to train students using unconventional methods. Her childhood friends from the SOS village school help her along the way but conflicts between their wards and school management derail their plans midway..to an extent. Eventually, Santoshi and her team of unconventional teachers triumph.
The story is a little too pat and easy going. Mahadevan doesn’t take a clear-cut stance on the system of education he prefers. The contretemps between students and teachers are all passé. We’ve seen it all before, rendered with far greater effect. Mahadevan’s effort though elegantly filmed and evenly tempered, comes across as mild and ineffective at best. The treatment is bland and unaffecting. The performances though are in sincere earnest.
The entire screenplay plays out as contrived. The epilogue puts it in perspective though. We get to know that this is a sponsored film promoting an NGO’s work and has little credibility as a cinema that warrants a steady following.